Some of the many benefits of being a member of The Guild are the various bursaries and awards that are available. Guild member Sara Cook was the recipient of the Teacher’s Travel and Education Bursary in January of this year.
The focus of Sara’s bursary is to further her research into Bojagi, Korean wrapping cloths. Up until the 1950’s Korean women were making and using cloths to wrap, carry and cover all manner of household items. Made from fabrics like ramie and hemp for more utilitarian uses they were also made from fine silks often decorated with auspicious symbols for happiness and longevity. Some were made from piecing tiny left over scraps of silk fabric into abstract patterns known as Jogakbo. Single layer wrapping cloths had translucent qualities that revealed irregular grids pieced together by unique closed seams.
“I began my research into Korean textiles when I was introduced to Chunghie Lee’s work, No Name Woman, at the Festival of Quilts in 2009. In 2016 I had the chance to attend the Korean Bojagi Forum in Suwon, Korea, as a delegate. Here I was able to meet Chunghie Lee and began to learn about the wide range of types of Bojagi that I had previously been unable to discover from the UK.”
As part of her research, Sara has returned for a second time to Korea as an exhibitor in the 2018 Korean Bojagi Forum. Here she was able to make further visits to museum collections and to work with a teacher at the EWA Women’s University in Seoul. In addition, it allowed her to meet other international textile artists who are inspired by this technique and who are relatively unknown in the UK.
“The women who made these cloths were excluded from education and lived isolated, restricted lives. Their only creative outlet was in making these beautiful wrapping cloths. Their identities are now forgotten and for a time it looked like their skills might be lost as well but thanks to a few notable collectors who appreciated their worth, many antique wrapping cloths have been saved. Bojagi can speak to the modern makers as well who have interpreted the ideas into a wide range of exciting work from huge installations made in PVC to smaller work concentrating on reuse and recycling.”
The bursary will facilitate Sara to work with an English speaking Korean Bojagi teacher, Youngmin Lee, at the San Francisco Museum of Asian Art. This museum has a large number of examples of Bojagi in its collection and, as part of her course, Sara will be able to study selected items from the collection to gain a deeper understanding of their design and construction. Guild members will be able to find out how Sara got in a future issue of our quarterly membership magazine, The Quilter.
“Learning about these exciting textiles can teach us about ideas for design and techniques for making that I would very much like to share with Guild members and students.”
Sara teaches City & Guilds Level 3 Courses in Patchwork and Quilting at certificate and Diploma level, and gives talks and workshops on Bojagi in the UK. She is a trained quilt judge and is currently writing a book on Bojagi which will be published by Batsford Books and will be available in summer 2019. You can follow Sara’s travels on Instagram here.
The Guild has many bursaries available for members, teachers and students. For full details of the many fantastic opportunities available and the application criteria, view The Guild website, here.